Variety of potatoes sold at Swiss Cottage Allotment association. And helpfull hints.

Variety

Maturity                                                          Yield      Blight resistant           Boil         Mash     Chip       Roast     Bake      Salad     Crisp

Rocket  1st Early                                             High                  No                  Yes         No          No          Yes         No          Yes         No

Maris Bard          1st Early                              High                 Fair                 Yes         Yes          No          Yes         No          No          No

Sutton Foremost              1st Early                Med                  Fair                 Yes         No          Yes         Yes         No          Yes         No

Pentland Javelin               1st Early                 High                 No                  Yes        Yes         No          Yes         No          Yes         No

Sharpes Express               1st Early               Med                  No                  Yes         No          No          Yes         No          Yes         No

Arran Pilot           1st Early                               Med                  No                  Yes        Yes         No          Yes         No          Yes         No

Marfona              2nd Early                              High                  Fair                 Yes        Yes                         Yes                          

Kestrel  2nd Early                                            High                   No                  Yes         Yes         No          Yes         Yes         No          No

Charlotte             2nd Early                             Med                    No                   Yes         No          No          Yes         No          Yes         No

Wilja      2nd Early                                            High                   No                   Yes         Yes         No          Yes         Yes         No          No

Cara       Late main                                        V High                 No                   Yes         Yes         No          Yes         Yes         No          No

King Edward       Early main                            High                  No                    No          Yes         Yes         Yes         Yes         No          No

Maris Piper         Early main                           High                    No                   Yes         No          Yes         Yes         Yes         No          No

 Estima  2nd Early                                          High                    Fair                  Yes         Yes          No         No         Yes          No         No

Maxine Early main                                          High                    No                    Yes          Yes                        Yes         Yes         No         

Desiree                Main                             V High   No                No                   Yes         Yes         Yes         Yes         No          No

Romana               Main                                  High                    Medium              General purpose

Pink Fir Apple    Main                                   Medium               Yes                    No          No          No          No          Yes         No

Sante (New)      Main                                     High                     Yes                    No         Yes        Yes        Yes          No         No        

Valor (New)       Main                                      High                    Yes                    Genral purpose      

Sarpo Mira (New)            Main                    V High                   Yes                    Yes         Yes         No          Yes         Yes         No          No

The 3 varieties (bottom 3) have  increased protection against blight and other disease. 

What to grow

There are dozens of different potato varieties, usually described as early, second early and maincrop potatoes.These names indicate when they crop and also give you an idea of the space you'll need, how closely and when they can be planted.

You should concentrate on the earlier types if you're short of space, and it's also worth remembering that earlies are less likely to encounter pest problems as they're lifted so much earlier in the year.

Second earlies take 16 to 17 weeks to mature after planting, so you should be able to harvest them from very late June through to the start of August.

Maincrops are ready 18 to 20 weeks after planting, so they can be lifted usually from July through to October. Maincrops take up the most space in the garden, but they tend to be the best varieties to grow if you want some for storage.

 What to do

How to chit

Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting.

Start chitting from late January in warmer parts of the country or in February in cooler areas, about six weeks before you intend to plant out the potatoes.

Each seed potato has a more rounded, blunt end that has a number of 'eyes'.

Stand the tubers with the blunt end uppermost in trays or old egg boxes, with plenty of natural light.

The potatoes are ready to be planted out when the shoots are 1.5-2.5cm (0.5-1in) long.

How to plant

Plant your chitted potatoes when the soil has started to warm up, usually from mid-March or early April. Start by digging a trench 7.5-13cm (3-5in) deep, although the exact depth should vary according to the variety of potato you're planting.

Add a light sprinkling of fertiliser to your trench before you begin planting.

Plant early potatoes about 30cm (12in) apart with 40-50cm (16-20in) between the rows, and second earlies and maincrops about 38cm (15in) apart with 75cm (30in) between the rows.

Handle your chitted tubers with care, gently setting them into the trench with the shoots pointing upwards, being careful not to break the shoots. Cover the potatoes lightly with soil.

As soon as the shoots appear, earth up each plant by covering it with a ridge of soil so that the shoots are just buried.

You need to do this at regular intervals and by the end of the season each plant will have a small mound around it about 15cm (6in) high.

Harvesting

Your home-grown potatoes should be ready for lifting from June until September, depending on the varieties and the growing conditions. Earlies can be lifted and eaten as soon as they're ready.

This will be when above-ground growth is still green, and usually as soon as the flowers open.

Second and maincrop varieties can be kept in the ground much longer, until September, even though above-ground growth may well be looking past its best.

Two weeks before you lift the crop, cut the growth off at ground level. This should give the skins of the potatoes sufficient time to toughen up, making them far less prone to damage from lifting and easier to store.

 Waxy or Floury... Does it matter?

Potatoes divide between floury and waxy in their consistency. Waxy potatoes have a low water content and because of this, they hold up well to boiling and chopping once cooked, ideal as new potatoes, cooked with mint and in salads, sauté and dauphinoise.

Floury potatoes have a higher water content, which means the flesh ‘collapses’ when it’s cooked, creating a rough surface which crisps up well in oil, while the insides become fluffy. These are the ones for roasting, baking, mash and chips. It’s worth having a few of both, as well as some Earlies for harvesting in June and July and some Maincrops for eating later.